10 Signs that Your Child Needs a Visit to A Dentist

3 to 7 years

Created by Bhavna
Updated on Sep 30, 2019

10 Signs that Your Child Needs a Visit to A Dentist
Reviewed by Expert panel

Ma, “when I told my classmates about the yucky medicine that I am having for my tooth infection, almost everyone in the class shared that they had tasted the yucky medicine too”- This is what my daughter shared one afternoon when she got back from school and my first reaction was of relief that my daughter was not the only one with bad teeth (I know that is not an appropriate reaction) but then it got me thinking as to why this is the case and what can I do for parents who thankfully are not in the same boat as I and can avoid being in the same situation in the future.

One time when I was at the dentists clinic, I started having a conversation with another mum (who had got her 4 year old for consultation) I realized that most of the parents struggled for information like I did (I feel very guilty for the condition that my daughter’s teeth are in at this stage). 

Signs of Oral Trouble of Your Child

On the basic timelines to follow and the tell-tale signs of trouble when it comes to the oral health of our children. So here are a couple of facts and tips that I came across during my research.

1. Right-time for the First Dental Checkup?

In an ideal situation the first checkup of the oral health for a baby may happen when the first couple of teeth erupt but if that is not done it is recommended that the first visit to the dentist should happen no later than the baby’s first birthday (it was a revelation for me, I had no clue that one had to get on it that early, well now I know) and it should happen every 6 months from then on.

2. Is the child being nursed to sleep in the night?

More often than not smaller children need to be nursed or given a soothing warm bottle of milk before they gently fall of to sleep. This is real cause for concern as natural and formula milk both have some form of sugars and this eventually leads to tooth decay. Though it is troublesome to get the child to rinse his/her mouth when they are sleepy, one should try to get that done and in cases where it is not possible one could give the child warm water in the bottle to drink out of after the milk is finished so the mouth gets rinsed indirectly.

3. Are there dark spots on the teeth?

The appearance of dark spots on the teeth is usually a sign of cavities. Since cavities may appear in between two teeth they may not be visible to the naked eye (only a dentist or an x-ray can verify that), it may be appropriate to have a consult with the dentist.

4. Is the child prescribed medication (for some other ailment) that has to be taken for a long duration of time like 2-3 months?

Some antibiotics that are prescribed to the children are strong and they are most often flavored (sweet). In cases where the child has to take medicine for 2-3 times in the day, it may be beneficial to make the child brush his/her teeth or rinse his/her mouth thoroughly after every intake. Iron supplements in syrup form also affect the color of the teeth hence if one notices that the teeth have brownish staining then a doctor may be consulted and the teeth can be cleaned professionally.

5. Is the face or the gums of the child swelled?

Swelling in the gums or the face is a clear indicator of a serious condition called abscess, which means that one or more tooth is decayed and the bacteria has penetrated not just the inside of the tooth but sometimes it may spread even to the gums, jaw, and bone of the child. This is a serious situation and needs immediate attention from the dentist, however, another reason that may result in swelling of the gums is if a child is on epilepsy medicine. In this case regular cleaning of the teeth by the oral hygienist may help the matters.

6. Are the molars smooth-looking or worn out?

Ideally, the molars (the back teeth) need to have grooves and peaks but if one notices the presence of smoothened out molars then it is a sign of teeth attrition of the enamel. This happens mostly in cases when a child is grinding his/her teeth in sleep. A dentist intervention is required in such cases.

7. Does the child suffer from gastrointestinal reflux or acid reflux?

The erosion of the enamel can also happen due to poor oral hygiene or gastrointestinal reflux (a condition in which the acids from the stomach back up to the mouth in the night eating away the enamel of the molars). The erosion of the enamel may lead to the teeth being more susceptible to cavities.

8. Does either of the parents have a family history of Cavities?

If one or both of the parents have been prone to tooth decay or gums related infection then the children are at a higher risk of having similar issues with their oral health. Frequent checkups and diligent brushing and rinsing of the mouth may be the way to keep a check on the oral health of a child.

9. Is the child into a lot of sports activities?

Mouthguards are also important for children that play rough sports, as a mouth guard may protect the teeth from serious dental injury. A dentist may be consulted for the size and quality of the mouth guard.

10. Is the child drinking aerated drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened drinks across the day?

Prolonged intake of the above-mentioned drinks or any citrus based candies like sweetened (dry) gooseberry (aamla) or lemons results in acid erosion of the teeth. This then results in the compromise of oral hygiene and the teeth become more susceptible to cavities.


The first teeth or baby teeth of a child are very important as they not only help in developing the chewing action which promotes healthy all around eating habits in future but they also help in the formation of clear speech. The use of pacifiers (that are not sterilized or used over a prolonged period of time) or the habit of thumb sucking may also be a factor in inadequate oral hygiene.
These baby teeth are also the foundation blocks of the permanent teeth in the future hence it becomes doubly important to make sure that the dental hygiene of a child is looked after from the time the child gets the first tooth.

Hoping I have addressed most of the signs that a parent may watch out, but in case I have missed out some please feel free, dear fellow pro-parents to share your experiences.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Feb 03, 2019


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| Jun 17, 2015

Hi Bhavna n Dr. Bassi My son is 6. 5 yrs n fortunately has a good set of teeth Although in his molar, there is one dot of brown colour which I'm not sure if it's a start of decay. Had checked with my dentist for him, though she said it's not a concern. Also while most of the kids in his age group or younger have already started to lose their milk teeth, he has not. Is it a concern

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| Jul 12, 2014

even i have the same problem they were saying for 3. 4year old they will anaestia to fill cavities and caps in between the teeth ...really scared of the procedures and worried for the nightmare when my son could say for the bad teeth pain of now just brushing twice thats all to post pone the bad day

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| Feb 26, 2014

Thanks Bhavna. MY daughter is 16 months old and she has tooth decay. upper front 4 tooth are decayed and white coating is erupted. She cant chew with those tooth. When I met dentist he suggested for filling of those by putting my daughter on general Anastasia. I am worried bcoz in such a small age putting kid under Anastasia is not good wht i feel is , Is there any other way to take care of it.

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| Oct 14, 2013

Hi Shivani,it is absolutely alright if your child has gaps in his milk teeth . in fact it ensures that his permanent teeth will not be overcrowded. it is also not necessary that the permanent teeth will have gaps just because the milk teeth have them. So you need not do anything about it at this stage. Just make sure the child has his regular dental check up .

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| Oct 10, 2013

Thanks Bhavna! We can often overlook our child's dental hygiene until it is too late. It is always important to know such facts.

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| Oct 04, 2013

If a child has gaps in the milk teeth, would the permanent teeth also come the same way? Do we need to take any measures now, or can be done later? Please let me know. Thanks

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| Oct 04, 2013

Hi Bhavna, this is the correct time for me to be informed about this as my child is about to get his first tooth in a month or two. Thank you so much for sharing such an useful info. Tt would help me lot.

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| Oct 02, 2013

That is a very informative,well written piece of information for all parents. very well researched and to the point

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| Oct 02, 2013

Hi bhavna,

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| Oct 01, 2013

Thnx for sharing!!!

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| Oct 01, 2013

Very useful info Bhavna! An eyeopening too. thnx for sharing it!

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